There was a lady in a Facebook group over a year ago giving away two rain barrels that nobody had taken at her moving sale and I jumped all over it, thinking of all the rain water we’d collect and use to water our garden.
Fast forward almost two years later and we finally got around to cleaning them up and installing them.
This is a basic patented 55 gallon rain barrel. These two caps come off so you can attach a down spout from your gutter to allow the rain water running off of your roof to collect in the barrel.
We purchased two 90-degree PVC elbow pieces to direct the water from the gutter in to the barrel. The elbow piece fits perfectly over the opening in the lid.
Since these barrels have been out in the weather unused for so long, we gave them a good cleaning with some Dawn dish soap. It’s recommended you drain and clean your barrels once a year. Our barrels are used for collecting rain water to water our garden only; we are not collecting for household use or for drinking water, there are many additional steps involved to cleaning, installing, and maintenance if you plan to drink the water.
We drilled three holes along the top of the barrels so that rain water will not settle on the lid and draw hundreds (literally!) of mosquitos. Apparently whoever designed this wasn’t from the South!
Next, we drilled a hole at the bottom of each barrel to connect our water tap. This will allow us to easily attach a hose to water the garden or to fill watering cans. You only get one shot at this so you want to drill the hole smaller than the tap and twist the tap into the hole, the threads will begin to catch and you’ll have a snug fit.
We added an outdoor clear flexible sealant (100% waterproof and mildew resistant) around the tap once it was in place. This prevents any leaks around the edges where we drilled.
With some scrap pallet wood, we threw together stands for the barrels to set on. This puts it at a comfortable level to place a watering can under the tap.
We placed pantyhose over the lid (where the elbow piece connects) to filter debris that comes through the gutter and also to prevent mosquitos from finding their way in to the water. Mosquito netting will work just as well!
- To calculate how much water you can collect from your roof, measure the square footage of the area under your roof and multiply by .623 for each inch of rain.
For example: 1,000 covered square feet can yield 623 gallons with only one inch of rain!
- You can make a rain barrel out of many household items, most commonly a trash can. A quick Google search on DIY rain barrels will bring up a number of step by step guides explaining how to turn every day items into rain catchment systems.
- If you live in a neighborhood with a HOA, I recommend checking to see if you’re allowed to collect rain water or if specific barrels are required. There are states (mostly Western states) that do not allow the collection of rain water and can fine residents who do so.
- Rain water doesn’t contain the fluoride and other compounds that are added to residential water. The water collected from a roof picks up very little contamination, though the roofing material plays a part in how much contamination there is. This is excellent for your garden! There has been a noticeable difference in how our plants perk up when given rain water versus residential water.
- 40% of your residential water use during summer months will be on your lawn/garden. If you can collect an entire 55 gallons from just a half inch of rain, you’ll notice a difference in your water bill.